Review: Tried and True. Dallas, TX.

Tried and True
2405 N Henderson Ave
Dallas, TX 75206

Let’s set the table a bit here (no pun intended). It was a Saturday night. Mrs. Roadrunner and I had just finished the most epic 3rd birthday party ever and we were looking for a place to celebrate. The target was a place that we could grab some drinks with a couple of friends. Good food would be a plus. So we headed over to Tried & True to give it a shot and I gotta say the place was exactly what we were looking for.

We got there and were quickly seated. The waitresses are girl-next-door types (seriously everyone at the table said “I think I know her from somewhere”) and the layout includes high top tables, booths, a bar, pool table, etc. We ordered our drinks (Beer Buddy says the Beer selection is quite admirable by the way) and shifted our attention to food.

Up first were the Brisket Nachos. Chips topped with cheese, pico de gallo, avocado, jalapeno, sour cream….. oh and the most amazing, peppery, moist delicious brisket. I’m not sure how good the brisket would be by itself, but it is damn good on these nachos.

This dish alone is worth coming here. Talking about it again the next day with Mrs. Roadrunner got so intense, you’d swear we were in the midst of foreplay (from what I can remember foreplay to be like, we are married after all, it’s been a while).

The second appetizer was the cornmeal squid. Honestly, these were a complete miss. More cornmeal than squid and the cornmeal was a bit harsh on the mouth (the word sandpaper comes to mind). The sauces, a cocktail and a tartare, didn’t do too much for me either.

The Off-Site Kitchen burger (named after owner Nick Badovinus’ Burger joint Off-Site Kitchen) was the first entree. It was awesome. I ordered mine all the way with bacon and a fried egg. The only complaint (and it’s a little one) is that the bun was overwhelmed by the juiciness of the patty. Still great though. Makes me want to go to Off-Site Kitchen ASAP.

The fries were similar to the ones I’d had at Neighborhood Services (another Badovinus restaurant). They’re good. Real good.

The Mrs. ordered the chicken tacos.  Wonderfully flavored chicken topped with pico, avocado, cheese and pickled onion, wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla. They’re a solid choice. Not the best tacos ever, but good none the less.

One of the members of our group had to wait a bit longer to get her meal, so the chef sent out a complimentary desserts. The stand out of the two was definitely the Pecan Pie. Possibly the best Pecan Pie I’ve ever had a restaurant. The brownie a la mode was solid as well.

Overall, if you’re looking for a bar with good food, this place is a can’t miss. Order the nachos, burger and pecan pie. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

RATING: ***

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Review: Smoke. Dallas, TX.

Smoke
901 Fort Worth Avenue
Dallas, TX 75208

During a brief twitter conversation about favorite Brunnch spots, I mentioned that my go-to in Dallas is probably Smoke. A big reason for that is that I live right off I30 and the other reason is that it’s really good.

When a co-worker wanted to meet for brunch one Saturday and then asked if I’d heard of Smoke, I smiled slyly and said “I’ve heard of it.” I didn’t want any backing out because I eat there so much.

The food here is all made in house with incredibly high standards. Chef Tim Byres’ dedication to quality and never taking the easy way out is quite refreshing. The dedication definitely comes through in the food.

Dining with me on this meal was Mrs. Roadrunner and little roadrunner. We ordered 3 plates with the intent of splitting them between us (like every loving family who enjoys variety does).

The first dish up was the Ricotta Pancakes with Vanilla poached  apricots, blueberries and cream. This bad boy is what is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when the conversation of brunch at Smoke comes up. Rightfully so, the pancakes are light and airy and not too overly sweet. The apricots and blueberries always add a nice amount of tartness to the dish, making it a real winner.

The brisket hash was the low point of the meal. I enjoy it, but Mrs. Roadrunner doesn’t (and let me know it repeatedly). I think it’s good, not great though. The smoked brisket sits on top of a cornbread hash and is topped with a poached egg. The cornbread hash isn’t amazing and is probably what causes this particular dish to miss.

The Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict are probably my favorite brunch item in Dallas right now. The pork is juicy and has great flavor. The poached egg and hollandaise are both spot on. It’s a simple dish, but those are always the best right? On the side are goat cheese potato cakes. You can never go wrong with frying goat cheese and potatoes.

Overall, if you’re looking for a great brunch with some Texas flair, check out the Tim Byre’s Smoke. The place is about as good as it gets.

RATING: ****

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Review: Il Cane Rosso Pop Up, Swiss Pastry Shop

When talking to any knowledgeable Dallas foodie type, and you start a sentence with “Il Cane…”, expect the phrase “Best Pizza in Dallas!!” to be injected into the conversation before you can ever finish your thought. There’s an unbridled enthusiam for Jay Jerrier’s (proprietor of Il Cane Rosso) product. Most of it comes from an open and constant acknowledgement of the standards, ingredients and process used to make their pies. He is also quite approachable on twitter, endearing him to the foodie-type following as well.

When I heard about the Pop Up in Fort Worth, I was excited. Visions of ironic mustache clad hipsters riding their fixies to get their taste of the metroplex’s premiere pizza immediately ran through my head. Pop ups these days seem to draw nothing but that ilk. This pop up however was much more low key than expected. And while it doesn’t challenge Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese as the gold standard for hipster pop up restaurants, it does in fact serve a great meal without any chicanery.

The set up was basically this: The famous  Il Cane Rosso mobile oven was set up outside the Swiss Pastry Shop. We were sat by an ICR waiter and waited on by him inside. If you wanted pastries from SPS, transactions were separate.

Mrs. Roadrunner and I went with our favorite couple to eat with. We ordered 2 apps,2 pizzas, 2 desserts and planned on splitting the bill. This is what the Roadrunners deem as “optimal set up”.

First up was the foccacia, a flat bread cooked in their high temp oven and delicious in its simplicity. Topped with olive oil and rosemary, the bread is wonderfully blistered on the outside. This stuff is goooooood.

Next up was the caprese. Really good as these things go, but I was ready for the pizza at this point.

The first pie was the Delia. This thing is a winner. I’m generally more of a red sauce pizza guy, but I supremely love this. Fresh Mozz, (amazing) roasted grape tomatoes, spicy bacon marmalade, topped with arugala. Wonderful. It’s worth the price of admission.

Next Up: The Zoli. Red Sauce, Mozz, Sorpressatta and Jimmy’s Sausage. The sauce is wonderful and the toppings pack a nice amount of heat. You really can’t go wrong with either of these pies.

For Dessert, we ordered an ICR dessert pie and the signature Swiss Pastry Shop Dessert, Black Forest Cake. The cake is wonderful, light and fluffy with a nice crunch. Nice almond flavor mixed with chocolate and cream.

Our dessert pizza, the bella mella, was nice. Caramel, mascarpone, sea salt and caramelized fruit. It was a nice way to finish the meal. Everyone was stuffed, but we still managed to finish this bad boy off.

Overall, this is a fantastic meal and the price point is great as well. It comes with a caveat, and one that I’ve learned over the last couple of years…. don’t expect to look at pizza the same way once you start eating at places like this. You can’t. It’s not the same.You will be ruined.

You’ll walk into random pizza shops and ask what type of flour they use for their dough. You’ll check around to see if you can tell what kind of tomatoes their sauce is made of and ask a pimply-faced worker what temp the pizza oven is set to (probably met with a pizzled look). It’s a curse, but also a blessing. You’ll know what good pizza, real pizza is all about. Coincidentally, you’ll also find yourself yelling “Best Pizza in Dallas!!” when anyone starts a sentence with “Il Cane….

RATING: ****

Cane Rosso on Urbanspoon

 

Review: Lucia. Dallas, TX.

Lucia
408 West 8th Street
Dallas, TX 75208

For the food-loving contingent of the greater DFW area, Lucia is legend. The story of its creation is the sort of proverbial fairytale that those of us who romanticize about owning our restaurant (I include myself in that group, even though I have no training, experience or knowledge for that matter and should know better) latch on to and tell all of our friends about. A husband and wife team? He cooks? She runs front of house? What an amazing set up!

That being said, I’m not the only one who loves this fairytale and desires to be a small part of it. Eating here can be difficult. Getting a reservation requires about a month of preparation. I actually booked mine about 2 months in advance, so going in this place had a lot to live up to.

The first thing we ordered was the obligatory salumi plate. David Uygur, the Chef/Owner/Husband, makes all the charcuterie himself. It’s known somewhat as his signature. Ours came with sorpressata, black pepper sausage, chicken liver crostini, duck pate and lardo.

While the charcuterie was good, having just had the charcuterie board at Toro Bravo a few days previously, I wasn’t blown away with it. Unfortunately that would be a microcosm the rest of the meal.

Next up were the pasta dishes.First, spaghetti with sea urchin butter was probably my favorite dish of the night. A great smooth tasting butter sauce and the flavor of the sea urchin really stood out. I could have done without the garlic bread crumbs on top, but it didn’t take too much away from the dish.

The other pasta dish was a potato gnocchi with texas tomatoes. This was very good and the tomatoes were fresh and amazing.

For entrees, we ordered druck breast with pickled cherries, lady cream peas and foie gras. Though I’m not a huge duck man, I thought this was really good. The cream peas with the foie gras were outstanding. Definitely not something you eat everyday.

The next entree (partly eaten above), was a slow roasted pork shoulder with polenta and coppolini onions. I thought the polenta was ok, but the pork was a real disappointment. The cut was full of so much gristle (an estimated 50%) that it was just not enjoyable. This dish is the main reason I would consider this meal 3 star, instead of 4. I understand that that is a slim margin for error, but with great praise comes great expectations.

Being a bit disappointed in the meal, we decided to not order dessert and instead cut our losses and enjoy a little walk in the Bishop Arts District.

Overall, I should mention that this meal was not a bad one. It was good in fact. The problem is that a meal that requires a 2 month reservation, and is praised by every notable food authority you can think of, is expected to be more than good. It’s expected to evoke sweeping emotions, to inspire you, to challenge preconcieved notions you had about food. It didn’t do any of those things for me, it was just a good meal. If the pork had been delicious, this would have been a 4 star meal in my mind, but still a disappointment of sorts.

All that being said, I am completely behind what the Uygurs are doing here. Dallas needs more restaurants with an undying dedication to quality. They seem to slave over every detail of the restaraunt from the wine list to every last ingredient. These are qualities you want in restaurants you spend your money at. Maybe if we had more, you wouldn’t have to try so hard to get a seat at Lucia.

RATING: ***
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